The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb

Dave Borthwick, UK, 1993, 61 min.

It looks like a Svankmejer film but that is not to say that the Bolex Brothers haven’t made something completely their own. At first, the similarities are too much not to notice, but as the film progresses you can see that there is a unique style to this film.

The story is about a genetic accident, born six inches tall to a loving (if sweaty) couple. Soon, Tom Thumb is separated from his family and has to struggle to find his way back. The film is filthy. All of the humans are covered in sweat and insects and bugs are constantly in the background and foreground of every frame. Its a theme that perpetrates throughout the film.

I appreciated the technical skills and the attention to detail that went into the production, but the characters are a little flat. Although they portray emotions they are inherently emotionless. But regardless of that, the theme and mood remain strong, and despite some lulls and confusing motivations, there is a lot to love. Including a wonderfully surreal coda.

This film is much like it’s title character: Short, filthy and a bit devoid of emotion, but ultimately it delivers.

This film wins the award “Sweatiest Characters” for the constantly glistening cast, which help bring the film and its sad world to life.

2 thoughts on “The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb

  1. I thought the main character had emotions. I’m not sure what you mean by “although they portray emotions they are inherently emotionless.” He was very upset when he got separated from his family and wanted to get back to them. He also tried to stop the little people from throwing the rocks at his friend. He was also very curious about the “big” (normal) sized people. The picture you show he was scared and upset.. There’s a few more I can think of but I think I’m already giving too much away. But I would have to disagree with the main character being void of emotions… In fact, I think he was one of the most emotional one in the movie.

  2. That’s a good point, and maybe it comes down to how the viewer connects with the characters. He did display emotions in those scenes: love, fear, etc. But there was no depth or weight to how they portrayed it. Maybe it was the limitations of the animation style, but the character felt one-dimensional to me, only displaying one emotion at a time when the story needed it. His emotional reactions didn’t feel like they were earned by the writing.

    Or course, the character is really just part of the allegory the film tries to make, so maybe I am being too emotional myself

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